A Question on Mass Locations


I went to boarding school and remember attending a Mass held in a general meeting room. I don't remember the exact quote, but I remember the priest discussing in his homily how one of the developments of Vatican II was to allow Mass to be celebrated outside of a physical church building. Could anyone give me more details on this? i.e. Mass celebrated outdoors, Mass not celebrated actually in a designated Catholic church, old-time private chapels, etc.?

I apologize if my terminology is incorrect. I don't mean any disrespect - I just never had any real religious education.


More specifically, I would like to ask if the point about Vatican II is true, and what in particular this might be referring to.


I don't believe that Vatican-2 had any say in the appropriate location of a Catholic Mass. Masses have been celebrated throughout history in the open air in non-Catholic territory (such as the Roman Empire and the First Crusade).

In the modern Church, Papal Masses are regularly celebrated in the open air apart from Catholic Churches (such as the World Youth Day Masses).

The Catholic Church usually insists that a Mass be done in a proper church - when circumstances allow. Thus, you will generally not find a Catholic wedding Mass celebrated on some tropical beach, or in the gondola of a hot air balloon.

But this is not an absolute rule. Exceptions may be made (at the discretion of the Pope or Bishop). After the 9/11 attacks, our Bishop held a Mass in a local football stadium.


It is proper and common practice to celebrate Mass in a church dedicated to our Lord that is in communion with the Church and its beliefs (aka. a Catholic church). However, dispensations can be given to hold a Mass in places such as a Non-Catholic church (like for weddings) and even in the outdoors.


In penal times in Britain and Ireland Masses were held wherever they could be safely held. In England this meant in a private house usually. Bishop Richard Challoner used to hold Mass regularly in the Ship tavern, near Lincolns Inn Fields in London. He would hire a room above the pub and all the communicants would sit around a table with a tankard of beer in front of them. someone would be designated to take sips of the good bishop's beer, so that if they were interrupted by the law they would all appear to be merely having a drinking party.
I pass by the Ship on my way to my own church, and thank God for men like Bishop Challoner who kept and defended the Faith in difficult circumstances.

I have seen photos from the Second world War of priests celebrating Mass using the bonnet (hood) of a jeep as their altar.


[quote="gnomestani, post:2, topic:294747"]
More specifically, I would like to ask if the point about Vatican II is true, and what in particular this might be referring to.


No it's not, because throughout history masses have been celebrated outside of Churches. Vatican II may have made some reference to masses outside of established church buildings, but it certainly didn't allow a NEW practice in doing such a thing.

In fact, from the very beginnings of the church masses were held both outside and in homes (some of which had the interiords converted into "church buildings"). It wasn't until at least the 3rd century that it became legal for Christians to build structures explicitly as "churches" in the city of Rome.

And masses have always been said outdoors in the cases of armies on the move, or even large bodies of people. I once attended a mass at which Pope John Paul II was SUPPOSED to preside (unfortunately, he became ill and couldn't travel) at which 15,000 young men attended mass outdoors led a cardinal (incidently, I DID later get to see the pope in person at a papal audience! :D). I have also attended masses outdoors in context of being in the military and engaged "in the field" where no church structures existed... and that's no different from armies during, say, the crusades, when masses would have to be said for armies that were on the move through areas where no churches existed.


When Magellan landed in the Philippines in 1521, they had a Mass at the beach. And they also probably had Masses in the boat, it took a few months to get to the Philippines from Spain especially if you had to sail around the southernmost tip of South America. And this was prior to Trent.

So no, Masses outside of parishes is not something new with Vatican II.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.